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Block diagram of my Amateur Station

Discussion in 'General Ham Radio Discussion' started by Moleculo, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    I don't know if anyone is interested, but it has been a slow day at work today so I decided to make a block diagram of my station. This will actually be useful for troubleshooting/documentation down the road. It's just the operating station. If I'm bored tomorrow, I may make one of the tech bench.

    [​IMG]


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  2. C2

    C2 Well-Known Member

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    Suite!

    Hope you get them coax switches right all the time!
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  3. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    Yeah, I've made that mistake a couple times. I printed out a big label and stuck it to the desk that says "CHECK THE COAX SWITCHES!" I even miss that every once in a while. :eek:
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  4. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    Now that I look at it again, I notice that I didn't show the station ground. Well, everything shares a common ground buss made from 2" wide copper sheet metal to an outside ground. It's also tied to the house ground (in a cheesy way, but it's the best I could do).
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  5. Robb

    Robb Yup

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    Hi Moleculo:

    I have a few questions if you don't mind answering them.
    I'm not questioning the logic or your design; I just know so little about Ham that I'm trying to learn more.

    1) Your duplexer between the 2m/440 radio and the two antennas. Just how is a duplexer work? Is it like a passive speaker crossover?

    2) How can these VHF/UHF antennas hook up to your IC-746? Does the Icom do VHF/UHF as well?

    3) I notice that you don't use a conventional CB antenna for your Grant. You are using the Cushcraft R6000 and an antenna tuner. Does this work out well; or is it a compromise? How come you you don't use the dipole for the CB too? Or won't it tune up on 11 meters. I've always wondered about that one.

    4) You aren't using a rigblaster/pro. Don't like them - or ? And you have two sets of audio cables between the Ham rig and the CAT. I don't know squat about digital modes but I am considering the Rigblaster Pug 'n Play. Too little or just not good enough? It's alittle confusing at this point, as I have a computer and want to be able to hook it all up.

    5) You use a lot of outboard DSP for the Ham rig. Isn't the Icom efficient enough - or does it fall on its own face?

    6) What is a 'tuning pulser'?

    I'm not afraid to admit that I don't know this stuff, but I'm trying as fast as I can to make up the difference.
    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
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  6. Robb

    Robb Yup

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    I did a bit of research in the mean time.
    Yes the 746 is able to go all the up to 144Mhz - got it.
    Nice radio; but I'm not sure why all of the DSP gear is needed - unless I am right by thinking that the Icom DSP isn't all that it is cracked up to be.

    The antenna pulser is used to fine tune the power amp so that it doesn't destroy itself - or the tubes. I'm not sure how it is used, but I found a few schematics that show how to BIY.

    Saying that the duplexer is similar to a speaker crossover is a fair comparison. I found a schematic for one as well, and it is made up of capacitors and coils in paralell and series on either side of the input power. Check.
    Right?

    I still need to know about the antenna being used for the Grant. As I am ready to buy a dedicated 5/8 wave ground plane for my shack. If I could use the money twards a Ham antenna instead, that could save me some serious money. That is still an open question.

    The question is still open about the Ham dipole for the CB use - too.

    I've read on eHam that the Rigblaster Pro only got a 4.1 rating with only 30 reviewers. While the Tigertronics cost 1/3 less, got a 4.8 rating, and had almost 120 reviewers. There is a lot that I need to fill in the blanks here, as I'm quite certain they aren't even comparable to each other. They aren't capable of doing all of the same things, as the Tigertronics is simpler - yet preferred almot 4 to 1 - if that really means anything. Only one of the things out of many that is still confusing me on this aspect of Ham radio.
    Digital seems to hold of a lot of fun and practical uses. I'm just not sure how to spend my money wisely at this point; so I will wait untill I know a lot more about it.
    Quote: "...A RIGblaster pro for only $299.95, using a computer and appropriate software, replaces the following station accessories:

    A mic. equalizer/processor up to $250
    A rig control interface up to $130
    A multi mode TNC up to $550
    A contest Digital Voice Keyer up to $180
    A DSP receive filter up to $400
    A receive enhancer up to $170
    A DX beacon clock with receive up to $100
    An Internet remote base up to $ 65
    A sound card interface (of course) up to $140..." -end quote

    Sounds like a lot of hype to me; or do they have all of this on the ball?
    And if all of that is true; then why aren't more Hams using this gear?
    http://www.tigertronics.com/
    http://www.westmountainradio.com/RIGblaster.htm

    Also, any clarifications would be appreciated!
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
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  7. 74IN

    74IN Well-Known Member

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    Pics?

    Or a link to them?
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  8. hookedon6

    hookedon6 W9WDX Amateur Radio Club Member

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    did i miss the straight key?;)
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  9. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    You answered some of the questions yourself, but I'll add some clarity

    1) The duplexer "splits" the 2m/440 signal to two different antennas. The back of the radio only needs one connection for both bands. I use the little magmount 1/4 wave 440 antenna on my window sill so I can crossband repeat around the house without sending the 440 signal from the Icom 2720h all over the city.

    2)Icom 746Pro does 144mhz, but not 440mhz.

    3) I used to use a dedicated 11m antenna (Interceptor 10K) but I wanted a more versatile vertical that would cover more bands. Since I have limited space, I have to compromise. The Cushcraft R6000 sits above the dipole, which is in inverted V configuration. The dipole will certainly load up on 11m, but the vertical works better than an inverted V for local CB use. The whole thing is a bit of a compromise on CB, but It still works well.

    4) It's just not necessary to use an expensive sound card interface with most rigs. All those "costs" they claim you save are really handled by whatever software you use and not the interface. I just bought an inexpensive CAT cable ($20) for rig control and made a sound card interface using mono plugs on the computer side, 1:1 isolation transformers inline ($4 or so at radio shack) and soldered the wires to the appropriate connector on the other side. It works great! I have no ground hum/loop issues and I can do everything anyone else can do that has one of the more expensive interfaces. BTW, I really only need the TNC to do Amtor/Pactor ARQ modes, which you can't do using any soundcard interface.

    5) All the audio processing stuff on the 746Pro is really more of a "want" than a "need" type of thing. The audio on the 746 pro with the stock mic is really pretty good. You can tailor it a little using the internal DSP settings. But at some point, I heard some guys on the air who sounded really "killer" and said to myself, "Hey! I want to sound like that!" And so the pocketbook got a bit lighter.

    6) The pulser plugs into one of your key ports and emits either a pulsing tone or solid tone depending on which button you hit. The pulsing tone allows you to tune up your amp (or load your antenna) without putting a lot of stress on the tubes/transistors. The pulsing tone also represents the type of input your voice would be similar to but it's more "steady" so some meters respond to it a little better. It helps so you can also see how much power you're really running before you start talking.

    BTW, I did buy a rig interface for the Icom 706mkiig mobile. The one I got is the RigExpert Standard . I decided to do that for a specific reason that I can get into if you're really interested ;), but it will require taking some pictures. You can certainly do a rig interface for a '706 in the same way I did for the 746pro.

    There are some pics on the "Station & Mobile Pics" section. Or you can look in my album.

    Haha! Nope, you didn't miss it. CW really isn't my thing. I don't even know if I can do it anymore :eek:! But if I ever get the urge (which isn't often), I just cheat and use MixW :D. I like PSK31 better.
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  10. Robb

    Robb Yup

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    Quote:
    "3) I used to use a dedicated 11m antenna (Interceptor 10K) but I wanted a more versatile vertical that would cover more bands. Since I have limited space, I have to compromise. The Cushcraft R6000 sits above the dipole, which is in inverted V configuration. The dipole will certainly load up on 11m, but the vertical works better than an inverted V for local CB use. The whole thing is a bit of a compromise on CB, but It still works well." -end quote -Moleculo

    OK. How much of a compromise are we talking here for 11 meter? What does it do w/o the tuner? What does it do with the tuner? You've got that fine Uniden Grant, and everyone know that's a talker! Can you work skip with that combination?
    BTW-Is either of your antennas compromised by their proximity to each other?

    When working the Ham bands - do you see real gain figures from the R6000 - or do you think it is hype? Do you feel that your dipole is relatively useless comapared to the R6000? I read on another thread here on WWRF, that someone can tune up to 80 meters on the R6000. What are the positives and negatives of this antenna? Mind you, I dont want to put down ground wires because of the property shape and where I must mount the antenna - so I have limitations to work with.

    My need for an antenna and picking one is based upon these key factors:
    1) No ground wires
    2) Roof mount
    3) GAIN vs LOSS? GAIN wins!
    4) 30 ft up can be done
    5) Versatility
    6) Bandwidth
    7) SWR
    So, given these key needs; what antenna(s) win - if any?
    Certainly, the R6000 is the ONLY vertical that I'm aware of that states any real gain.
    Are there others that I don't know about?
    Does the Titan DX show gain when elevated - or does it compromise it?
    Same question goes for the MFJ-1798...
    You have helped me immensely, by showing how your station is wired up Moleculo.
    Thanks!
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
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  11. n8fgb

    n8fgb Active Member

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    I also have an ATR 30 tuner, love it. Don't see the need for the Daiwa though.I have a heatkit oilcan. YOu are aware that your xband repeat has to ID on the link from the Icom to your handheld, a lot of people forget that. That is why I wan a FT 8800r, has an automatic IDer.
    Rich
    #11
  12. Moleculo

    Moleculo Administrator Staff Member

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    It's bigger and easier to read than the little, itty, bitty meter on the amplifier and tuner. It's also a little more sensitive which is a bit helpful. Other than that...no real reason. I aqcuired that before I got the amplifier and tuner, so it stayed.

    I've been over this ad-nauseum on QRZ. No it doesn't. As long as the TX range of the ICOM on 440 is no further than the TX range of the HT, then everyone in range of my 440 HT id'ing can hear me ID and that fulfills both the literal and intention of the law. That's why I have a tiny 440 antenna on the window sill inside the house which means it gets about 3 block range with the power turned down. You can hear my HT farther than that. The FCC requirements are that your "station" must id on every frequency you use...not that every single radio must ID. If I'm close enough to the crossbander that I can walk over to it and shut it off, I am still at my "station"

    ยง97.119 Station identification.

    (a) Each amateur station, except a space station or telecommand station, must transmit its assigned call sign on its transmitting channel at the end of each communication, and at least every ten minutes during a communication, for the purpose of clearly making the source of the transmissions from the station known to those receiving the transmissions. No station may transmit unidentified communications or signals, or transmit as the station call sign, any call sign not authorized to the station.
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